How To Bet On Sports
Earning consistent profits from sports betting is difficult work. Even if you’re a bettor who bets primarily for fun, there are betting fundamentals that can improve your chances of grinding out a profit.
In this article, we will share the five keys to successful betting. Following these rules won’t promise you betting success, but consistent implementation of and adherence to these five keys will improve your chances of coming out ahead.
#1 Understand Betting Value
Betting only when you have determined genuine betting value is the first rule for successful betting. If you are betting where this no value, you are guaranteed to lose money long term. Do your research and bet only when you have identified betting value.
What is a value bet? Simply put, a value bet is one where you determine the probability of the outcome occurring to be greater than the probability implied in the betting odds. If the probability is less, it is not a value bet and you should not place a wager.
For example, let’s say the Philadelphia Eagles are facing the Seattle Seahawks in a NFL regular season game. The Eagles are priced at odds of +140 to win. According to the implied probability of these odds, the bookmakers have determined that Philadelphia has a 35.7% chance of winning the game. Through our research, we determine that the Eagles are a 45% chance of winning. In this instance, we have found a value bet as we determine there is a higher chance the Eagles will win in contrast to the implied probability of the odds on offer. If we had determined the Eagles as a 25% chance of winning, this would not represent a value bet.
To learn more about betting odds and how to calculate implied probability please read our article How To Read Odds.
#2 Understand How Bookmakers Set The Odds
While bookmaker odds are set according to complicated algorithms determining the likelihood of each outcome, bookmakers also take into account what the betting public (casual recreational bettors) is most likely to bet on. In this way, betting odds also reflect a number of biases that can be exploited by shrewd and patient bettors.
What is an example of a public betting bias? The average bettor is more likely to bet on favorites than underdogs. Average bettors generally overestimate the potential of good teams and underestimate the potential of poorly performing teams, typically displaying ‘recency bias’ in their betting by only considering the last few matches in the schedule instead of a more accurate long term view of a team’s form and potential.
Average bettors also want immediate gratification. They want a “sure thing” rather than bet on an underdog at long odds. This bias often leads to favorites being overpriced while underdogs present a decent value.
Average bettors also like to bet on high scoring games. The betting public will more often bet on the Over in points totals markets as opposed to the Under, their betting reflecting what they would like to see happen rather than what is more likely to happen. This trend creates a bias in points total markets particularly in both pro and college football where the Under presents the best of the value for those willing to bet on scoring being lower than expected.
Taking advantage of such biases is often referred to as ‘betting against the public’ and it’s something successful bettors have a talent for identifying and exploiting.
#3 Learn To Identify Value Betting Opportunities
Understanding the principle of value betting is crucial, but it is pointless if you cannot actually identify true value betting opportunities. As we stated in point two, learning how to identify biases in betting markets is a good place to start. But consistently finding true betting value takes more than recognizing the impact of public wagering on betting markets.
Learning how to spot value takes time, practice and patience. It is hard earned but worth the effort.
So how can you learn to identify value betting opportunities? One way is to specialize in certain sports and certain markets. For example, focusing only on NBA point totals or NCAA football betting lines. Through specializing, you will begin to spot and exploit biases in the market and become better tuned to the true potential for teams competing in the leagues or tournaments you choose to focus on.
For those who want to take things to the next level, there is the potential to develop complex betting algorithms of your own to identify value in betting markets. This can take not only a deep understanding of betting and probability theory, but can also demand a level of technical proficiency in terms of data collection and programming. But for those equipped with or prepared to develop these skills, it can be well worth the effort and provide you with many value betting opportunities.
#4 Don’t’ Bet More Than You Can Lose
If you want to bet sensibly it’s important to bet only what you can afford to lose. If you are approaching your betting with a long term strategy, you should start with a sum of money you are comfortable losing. This is wise even if it means betting at small stakes.
We would recommend beginning with a betting bank of at least 100 units and preferably 200 units. If you have a starting betting bank of $1000 this will mean your average bet stake will be between $5 and $10. Over time, wagering only on value opportunities, your bankroll will grow and with it your average bet stake. This may seem a conservative approach, but it is the only way to protect yourself from one, going bust and two, losing money that you simply cannot afford to lose
Keep in mind, many of the world’s most successful bettors began with small stakes and steadily increased their betting bank through the consistent application of value betting. It may not be sexy, but it’s the only way forward if you are serious about your betting.
#5 Be Patient. Be Disciplined
Remaining patient and disciplined is possibly the hardest trait to develop when betting on sports, especially if you are inexperienced. There is often a tendency to chase losses and bet when there is no value. Doing so will only see you lose money long term and ruin any chance you have of returning profit.
A lack of patience and discipline has been the downfall of many talented bettors. While they may be able to identify true betting value, they flush that value away when they fail to bet with discipline, chasing losses and betting out of frustration when events turn against them or confronted by a losing streak.
How can you develop betting discipline? One way to improve your discipline is to keep a record of all your betting. Every bet you place, every detail, the market, the odds, the bookmaker, reason for your bet, and the result. Mark each bet you make out of poor discipline and over the course of enough bets you will see how poor discipline negatively impacts your betting returns.
if that isn’t enough to improve your discipline, then you’re unlikely to be a profitable bettor long term.
Being disciplined is keeping to the fundamentals. Bet only when there is value and only bet what you can afford to lose. Keeping to these two principles will not guarantee success but it will increase your chances of turning a profit over the long term.